What Causes White Spots on Skin?

a woman with freckles on her face applying her foundation

Developing a few white spots on your skin is generally not a cause for significant concern. However, a lighter patch of skin can be a sign of an underlying condition. 

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing white spots. There are also a number of treatment options available for the various conditions. You can even do some of these remedies at home, and they are relatively inexpensive. If you just want to cover your white spots and not necessarily treat, makeup can always HIDE your imperfections. Whether you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, have an autoimmune disease, allergies, or need steroid creams, there are a variety of causes of white spots. 

We are going to go over the common causes for white spots and how you can treat or cover them. You will also find out when it's time to head to the doctor. 

Different Reasons for White Spots 

White spots are usually not a cause for concern but can be a sign of an underlying skin condition, 

If you start to notice white spots developing on your body (such as on your forearms or shins) but are unsure what the cause is, consider some of these common reasons. 


You may develop a sunspot from the loss of pigment in your skin. Generally, these spots are asymptomatic. They often appear on the legs before spreading to the arms, upper back, and face.

Sunspots occur when you don't have enough melanin in your skin and are exposed to the sun. They usually begin to show after the age of 40. They are harmless, and treating them is purely cosmetic. 

Excessive sun exposure without protection can increase your risk of skin cancer. The sunspots, though, do not indicate that you're getting cancer.

Tinea/Pityriasis Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a condition where the fungus that lives on the surface of your skin gets out of control, resulting in a fungal infection (similar to a yeast infection) that creates white spots. These spots can look dry, scaly, and even itchy in some cases. You may have to use antifungal creams.

The patches occur close together but usually grow slowly. Sometimes people may not notice the symptoms until they tan. Sun exposure and humid environments can make the spots more prevalent.


Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a condition where a small area gets inflamed, resulting in a rash and skin discoloration. Commonly affected areas include the face, scalp, hands, feet, elbows, eyelids, backs of the knees, and wrists. Usually, eczema itches, sometimes severely and especially at night. The rash can progress to open, leaking sores if touched. Doctors advise that you use a moisturizer over the affected area but avoid any harsh soaps.

Pityriasis Alba

Pityriasis alba is a skin disorder that causes red, scaly, itchy areas on the skin. When the patches heal, they leave behind white spots. Researchers believe it is caused by a moderate form of atopic dermatitis or eczema.

This condition generally affects children between the ages of three and 16. The patches usually show up on the face, although they can also appear on the neck, shoulders, and arms. 

Pigmenting pityriasis alba is a rare variant that may go unnoticed. It creates bluish-white scaly patches with extremely light skin around them. Pigmenting pityriasis alba also mainly shows up on the face and is more common in children.


Vitiligo causes white patches to form on a person's skin. It is a condition where the body's immune system is attacking cells that create pigment, called melanocytes. The immune system is malfunctioning and attacking healthy cells. 

The speed at which these spots develop varies, some types of vitiligo can spread slowly, and other times, it can take over large parts of the body. Vitiligo appears to be genetic, and most people don't notice until they're in their 20s. 


Milia are white, fluid-filled sacs that grow on the skin's surface and are firm, elevated, and painless. They occur when keratin, a protein that helps harden the outer layer of the skin, becomes trapped beneath the epidermis. They usually appear at random.

You may also have secondary milia caused by trauma from things like dermabrasion, blistering, and skin inflammation. Some medications might also cause secondary milia. 

A rare condition may also occur called milia en plaque. This condition results in the milia being surrounded by elevated, red, scaly, itchy skin regions. It also can occur at random in healthy skin, and the cause is unknown. 

Some researchers believe it could be a sign of discoid lupus erythematosus. This condition is a long-term skin illness that causes inflamed blisters and scars on the face, head, and ears. If you think you may have lupus, you should see a doctor for an official diagnosis. 

White Spot Treatments 

The treatment option you choose will directly correlate to the type of skin condition causing your white spots. You can consult a dermatologist about which skin therapies will be best to clear your skin. 

Here are some common remedies that can help clear patches from your skin. 

Topical Steroids

Topical steroids are a common treatment option for people with skin conditions like vitiligo, pityriasis alba, or eczema. These anti-inflammatory creams, lotions, and ointments help clear the inflamed skin. Generally, using a topical steroid for seven to 14 days will clear up a flare-up of eczema. However, sometimes you may need to use it for longer. 

Topical steroids are easy to apply and are relatively effective. They come in various strengths, mild, moderately, and potent, and your dermatologist can help you determine how strong a topical steroid you need. There are also over-the-counter topical steroids with a low potency that you can get without a prescription. 


There are a number of oral medications you can take to help with your skin issues. 

For example, if you have tinea versicolor, a doctor can prescribe an antifungal medication. These drugs can prevent the overproduction of fungus on your skin that causes this skin condition. 

There are also medications, like immunosuppressants, for eczema. These drugs can treat even severe cases of psoriasis. There are also enzyme inhibitors that can help fight inflammation. 

Ultraviolet Light Therapy

Another helpful option is phototherapy, which is also known as ultraviolet light therapy. It uses various wavelengths of UV radiation to treat different skin ailments.

This therapy is often used to treat a variety of eczema conditions in both adults and children. It can help relieve itch and irritation. Light therapy is a good option for people with eczema all over the body since the light can cover a large area. 

When you go for treatment, a moisturizing oil will be applied to your skin. You will be undressed and wear goggles to protect your eyes. This is a similar experience to going to a tanning bed. The light-emitting equipment will be turned on for a brief period of time, usually several minutes. It can be targeted at your entire body or specific areas. 

Ultraviolet light therapy can take a few months of consistent treatment before you notice a difference. Once you see improvement, you may be able to start going less or even stop for a certain amount of time. 

Sun Protection

When you have sunspots or inflamed skin, it is important to protect it from the skin to prevent it from getting worse. You want to wear sunscreen every day, making sure to cover exposed skin. You may also want to avoid spending too much time in the sun.

How To Cover White Spots

While you are treating and preventing your white spots from forming, you can use makeup to even out your skin tone. 

The first step is finding a foundation that matches your skin shade and undertone. Many people don't think about their undertone, which is the color beneath the surface of their skin. However, when covering large or small areas of your skin, you want your makeup to blend seamlessly into your skin, and the right shade and tone will allow that to happen. HIDE offers a variety of shades to fit any undertone. 

When you're ready to apply your foundation and concealer, you need to cleanse your skin first. This step is especially important if you have oily skin. You want to remove all that excess oil and dirt to have a clean base to apply your foundation. 

Once your skin is ready, go in with your foundation. A common type of foundation that is used to cover larger white spots is a liquid foundation since it's easy to blend. Start with a thin layer at a time to avoid getting cakey. After you've applied your foundation, use a concealer for touchups in areas that need a little more coverage. 

HIDE Premium Foundation and concealer is sweatproof and will last all day, so you won't have to worry about it rubbing off! However, you can set your makeup after you're done with translucent powder or setting spray. 

In Summary 

There are a variety of skin conditions that could be causing your white spots. You should consult a dermatologist or doctor if you're concerned about your skin. 

There are different treatment options to help the underlying condition and even out your skin. You can also use makeup to cover your white spots. 

HIDE premium products are an excellent option to cover whatever skin issues you are experiencing. They are high-quality and high coverage, so you can easily disguise your white spots. 



White spots on the skin: Possible causes and treatments

White Spots on Skin: What's Causing It?

White patch on skin: A cause for concern? | Mayo Clinic

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